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'I am here,' Rangel declares

4/12/2011, 5:29 p.m.

"And what I do remember is, 'Send your money in now. We got Rangel against the ropes,'" the representative continued, "'and we're gonna get rid of him.' Everyone knows who they are. And they followed me on vacation. They followed me when I was doing business. They're at the airport. They're outside where I live. It's kind of rough."

The group Rangel was citing is the National Legal and Policy Center, and it was one of its members who stalked Rangel and turned over his reports to the press, most notably the New York Post, to spark an investigation of violations.

Astonishingly, Rangel even mentioned Adam Clayton Powell Jr., the legend he defeated in 1970, who, near the end of his political career was similarly snared in a web of allegations about wrongdoing.

"Adam Powell knew [the situation] when they wouldn't let him be seated," Rangel said about Powell's problems. "And the courts, of course, overruled it. But if I can't get my dignity back here, then fire your best shot in getting rid of me through expulsion."

Expulsion is the last thing Rangel expects, and many who have carefully read the statement of alleged violations and his attorneys' response are convinced the acclaimed leader will be not expelled. At the core of his speech was a call for the ethics committee to move with alacrity and not let him hang in the wind until November.

"And maybe, just maybe, the members of the ethics committee might think about telling me when they think they might have a hearing, so that whatever they decide, I can let my constituents, my [family], my friends know that I did the best I could, as an American, as a patriot and someone who loves this country," Rangel concluded. "Thank you for your attention. Go home."